Pet Behavior Digest - My Newsletter For Pet Owners and Pet Lovers
1) Your dog’s food, toys, walks, and even your attention could be a great motivator and reward for responding to your request, or commands. Having your dog “sit” before receiving any of these valuable resources is a good place to start with training or when working to improve your dogs current behavior.
2) Encourage and reward eye contact. Without first training your dog to have good eye contact with you, it will be difficult to get your pet’s attention in order to give a command and get compliance. Praise your dog several times a day when it looks at you: before feeding it, before releasing it from a “stay or wait” command, or before going out to potty or for a walk.
3) Learn how to motivate your pet; not every pet is motivated by the same things. Food treats may attract one dog’s attention while another has more interest in a ball. Some dogs that are very difficult to train or keep focused need to first feel totally dependent on you for food. For at least one or two weeks, meals should be scheduled (rather than having food always available). All (or part) of the food should be given from your hands.
4) Be calm, clear, and consistent in the lessons that you teach. Be firm, but not harsh.
5) Don't give a command that you cannot or will not back up. For example, asking your dog to come or stay, when you haven’t really trained it to do so is fruitless. Think about your request: do you mean what you say and can you reinforce it? Does your pet have the ability and skill to comply?
6) Control and win games: playing ball when you want to, not when your dog pesters you. It’s best to avoid Tug-of-war games with some pets for now, especially with mouthy young puppies.
7) Resist always stepping over your dog if it is lying down in an area and you need to get by; instead, teach a “move or leave it” command. Require a “sit or wait” before inviting the dog in or out of your house--don’t allow your pet to just charge ahead before you enter or leave. These suggestions are good training opportunities. Consider your furniture off limits, or only allow the dog on a sofa by invitation, unless your pet’s behavior is very good. Having a pushy or out-of-control dog on furniture, is not a good idea.
8) Teach your pet that there are consequences for its behavior. For example, desirable behavior gets great rewards. If your dog “sits,” instead of jumping up on you, then it gets your praise and petting. If it jumps or barks while you are taking it out of it’s crate, or while opening a door to let it in, turn around and walk away. As soon as you hear your dog settle or stop jumping, praise and turn around and approach your pet once again. Have patience, this may take a few tries. Wait until your dog is calm and sitting before opening the door, so that you reinforce the appropriate behavior.
9)Train your pet to “settle down” on command by praising and rewarding it when it is displaying calm behavior and is in a “down” position. Slowly increase the amount of time that you ask your pet to remain calm and in one location. Having your pet “settle” when you request it will make your pet more enjoyable and calm to be with.
10) Your training philosophy should be to focus on rewarding good behaviors, not just punishing inappropriate ones. Give your dog about 20 minutes of training daily and divide the time into a few sessions.